Tips for layering a show-stopping trifle

Learn how to layer a trifle with these easy tips & tricks! Build your own or follow one of these tempting trifle recipes for a show-stopping creation.

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How to layer a trifle

Trifle is a classic Christmas dessert. An array of simple components come together to create an epic dessert, all you have to do it layer it up. It's fuss-free because your can prepare it ahead of time, and it's also a quick and easy choice to bring to a last-minute soiree. Build a show-stopping trifle with this guide to trifle and trifle recipes.
What is in a trifle?
Traditionally, the layers of a trifle include cake pieces, custard, fruit pieces, jelly and cream, but there are no rules. Choose your favourite ingredients and mix and match them according to your tastes!
Let's take a better look at all the components make up a trifle.
The vessel
  • Choose a large, deep bowl that will allow you to fit all the layers of the trifle. You can purchase trifle bowls especially for showing off your layered dessert, trifle bowls with stands are especially good for a statement centrepiece.
What can I use if I don't have a trifle bowl?
  • A large glass bowl is preferable so you can see each delicious layer. Other containers that could work are a punch bowl, a mixing bowl, a clear ice bucket, or uses glasses to make mini individual trifles.
The foundations
  • When adding your base layer, place it with care as it will be the first thing visible in the bowl. Ensure slices of cake are cut thickly enough so it won't turn to mush when topped with more layers. Lady fingers or sponge traditionally work well, but you could try brownies, spiced cake, gingerbread or even jelly. Traditionally, the cake layers are soaked with sherry or fortified wine.
  • If you're using jelly, remember to prepare it earlier as you need the base to be set and ready before adding the custard layer.
Custard and cream
  • After the base, it’s time for a layer of creaminess. Homemade custard is always a winner, but store bought works in a pinch. You can add whipped cream too, or fold it through the custard to lighten it up. This layer is key, as it breaks up the heaviness in the trifle. Dollop the custard in the centre of the bowl, then use a spoon or spatula to spread it to the edges to avoid custard smears across the glass.
  • For extra flavour, try adding a caramel sauce, fruit curd or lemon butter to your custard layer.
  • Use a mix of your favourite fruits - if using firm or crisp fruits, cut them into smaller pieces so they can be eaten with a spoon. We suggest using in-season fruits for a more intense flavour. In the Aussie summer, we're spoilt for choice with mangoes, nectarines, peaches and berries that are vibrant and full of flavour. Place the fruit right up against the glass for a striking and colourful result.
  • After adding the fruit, it’s time to repeat! Keep layering until the trifle dish is full or you run out of ingredients.
How to top a trifle
  • Once your dish is filled to the brim, it’s time to top it! Whipped cream is a favourite, or try meringue as a fancier topping. Trifles are so versatile so there is no wrong choice. If you like, scatter more berries, glace fruits or chocolate shavings on top.
Trifle recipes
Want a fool proof recipe that you can follow along? Find plenty of trifle recipes and videos below, from classic trifle recipes to modern twists with flavours like gingerbread and chocolate.
Traditional Trifle Recipe
Play Video: Easy Custard Berry Trifle
This simple yet stunning trifle layers cut berries along the edges of the bowl for a pretty presentation.
Tipsy Eggnog Trifle
Play Video: Tipsy Eggnog Trifle
Make homemade custard spiced with cloves, nutmeg and cinnamon for this gorgeous trifle with a Biscoff twist!
Gingerbread and Caramel Trifle
Play Video: Gingerbread and caramel trifle
If you can't get enough of gingerbread, add it to your trifle! A few gingerbread men on top makes it extra cute.
Want more great dessert recipes? Check out this collection of easy make-ahead desserts for entertaining, or this collection of Christmas dessert ideas.
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